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High Court opens trial of 4 alleged Filipina 'drug mules'

24 October 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao
The cocaine was found inside the hidden compartment of a hand-carried bag

Four Filipinas pleaded not guilty to conspiring to traffic dangerous drugs as their case opened before a jury at the High Court today, Oct. 20.

Two of the defendants – Shirley Chua and Maricel Thomas –also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of “trafficking in a dangerous drug” before Justice Audrey Campbell-Moffat of the Court of First Instance.

Chua and Thomas were arrested at Hong Kong airport on Sept 25, 2015 on arrival from Manila, for allegedly carrying almost 2 kilos of cocaine hidden in secret compartments of their hand-carried luggage. The drug was valued at about $2.5 million.

Their traveling companions, Remelyn Roque and Ana Louella Creus, were nabbed two days later when they returned to the airport for a flight back to Manila after allegedly delivering also about 2 kilos of cocaine to two men in Chung King Mansions, Tsimshatsui.

The start of the 15-day trial was marked by one prosecution witness saying Hong Kong’s Customs officers are wary of Filipino visitors as they come from a “high-risk” country. 

The witness, Lo Wai-hing, was one of two customs officers at the airport who inspected the bags of Chua and Thomas and arrested the pair.

The cocaine slabs found inside the bag
Asked by defense lawyer Kevin Egan what led the officer to select the two for the random baggage checking, Lo said it was because the visitors were from a “high-risk” country for drug trafficking.

He also said that the defendants did not look like the domestic workers who pass through the airport every day.

Next to give evidence was another customs officer Yang Haiyan, who said he saw Lo intercept Chua and Thomas and seize their green and black hand-carried luggage.

Yang said it was he who inspected and discovered the four slabs of cocaine hidden in secret compartments of their bags.

The green luggage and two slabs of cocaine it concealed were presented in court and inspected by Moffat, the defense lawyers as well as the jury members.

The hearing continues.
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